Horts at the Royal Botanic Gardens

Paul Nicholson maintains the Sydney Royal Botanic Garden. He's a horticulturalist, who shows us around the beautiful garden, chats about whats it's like to work in the garden, and what his projects are in his job.

About Paul Nicholson:

Paul Nicholson completed an arts degree in 1993, but he did gardening as a way to support himself through uni. He looked around for work after graduation and found as a lot of people with arts degrees do that he didn’t have many career options, the ones he was offered seemed like boring office jobs, unrelated to his field and education.

He applied for an apprenticeship with the Royal Botanics Trust and was accepted; he completed it, working in the iconic Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens in four years. The first area he worked on was the Cadi Jam Ora aboriginal garden. It’s the spot where the Cadigal people, the original inhabitants of this area, had some of their first encounters with the earliest settlers.

Cadi Jam Ora was set up to explain the Aboriginal use of plants and what the early settlers tried to use as plants when they first arrived here in Australia. It tells the creation story, in four panels of the Cadigal people, on how the landscape was created, and then three other panels, the invasion, domination and survival.

Working in this space has meant being very sensitive to the culture and beliefs of the traditional landowners and working closely with representatives of the Cadigal people.

Paul now, along with the spaces he tends and works on, also trains apprentices as part of the Botanics scheme he originally came through with. He says there is a real mix in age groups of people who now do the apprenticeship.

Many sea change mature age people come through as well as young, fresh out of school apprentices. The apprentices are rotated around the different areas of the gardens in 10 week stints to give them a chance to work in all areas.

VJ Linda Mirabilio